Finally finished this nice little painting for Olympic NP. Spawning coho salmon are here and we’ve seen them several times milling around waiting to jump.
Lots going on here in the paint department, but this one was truly fun for me. Below is the concept sketch.
And here’s the real place. The wayside panel will be located just at the top of the cascades on an overlook. As I posted before, I dropped my GoPro camera into the water here and found out the bottom was full of colorful gem-like rocks, tainted organic sierra on the upstream side. Hummm?
Salmon Cascades in Olympic National Park. Not a big drop, but always beautiful. Stuff goes on here!
Progress shot at the moment. More soon.
Olympic National Park has always been very supportive of my painting-mania, and this project has been years in the making. We both just had to wait for funding to appear, and it finally did.
I already have 24 of my paintings along the Sol Duc Road in various wayside exhibits and panels – drive along, pull over and see art! But this project required my GoPro underwater camera for references. I have always wondered what this place looks like to a salmon, so here it is:
And so the sketch shows the underwater stream bed just below the cascades and rocky walls, and of course, the painting will have a run of Sol Duc coho, females being herded by the big guys, all waiting for strength to attempt a jump in their upstream journey. We’ve seen this ourselves and I’ve stood just to the left watching them circle.
And then I put this into the same design template as some of the other panels up and down the road. Janet at the park will write the text and she’s always so brilliant at this. We both came up with the title completely independent of each other.
Stay tuned, more to come on this probably next week.
You may have noticed a serious absence of my blogs for the past month. Just too depressed about the my country sliding into hatred and my despair about it to write anything – but also this is the busiest period for my painting hand in decades. It’s all good, the painting part, but the level of art flowing out of my studio is somewhat frightening. I’ve learned to speed it up, fewer layers, less thinking about it – just go at it. All this is mostly National Park Service and WA State Parks stuff, so that means hurry up and then wait, wait for approval to proceed. At this moment, I have 43, yes, 43 sketches waiting to proceed to paint! Not to fret, there are dozens waiting in line for me to begin.
This one of the tide pools is for Washington Park in Anacortes, Washington. An interesting and fun painting, and, hopefully, make you read the rules about tromping all over the critters.
All those logos at the bottom will change when I get them, but the rest is fairly together. Several of these will be installed just where you hit the tidepools – sort of a welcoming sign to respect your neighbors.
Don’t you wish the same sort of thing was happening elsewhere?
Some small changes but I think this is finished. At least the art is. This panel will live on the east side of Discovery Bay, just a few miles from Port Townsend. The North Olympic Salmon Coalition recently rearranged a lot of land here, took out a railroad bridge or two and moved a mountain of fill dirt. Two streams, Snow Creek and Salmon Creek now run free into the bay in a textbook example of how to successfully restore salmon habitat. I was proud to be a part of it.
Here’s the detail on the left side. If you check the photo below, you’ll see there was a very pronounced umber feel to the color, a Van Dyke brown, and even thou it was winter and the painting is summer, I used it. This also seemed to be the color of the water here, hinting at all the organic nutrients coming down this stream.
This is one of four of these I’ve been working on for this restoration group, and I really appreciated the freedom and also professionalism everyone has in the group, especially Dave Shreffler, who did the interpretive writing. Very tasty twists of phrases that looks easy but isn’t. This makes the 9th underwater restoration painting I’ve done in the Pacific Northwest, just in time for the next one coming soon. Stay tuned.
Holidays or not, I spent some time this week finishing up this part of the North Olympic Salmon Coalition project for Discovery Bay. Last week I posted a partially finished painting of this and now here’s the final. I cut a piece out of the right corner, below, so you can see some details.
I’ve been working on various ways to show both above water and below water situations in the restoration paintings. This one is, if my count is right, the ninth painting showing this odd situation, and I really fudged reality in this one. If you look at the center lower part you’ll see the shoreline comes across into the water, but the scene is deep underwater. The water line above it is about as far off from reality as it gets – but it seems to work somehow.
Finishing the year properly with a local project. A LOCAL PROJECT! Hear that, he said joyfully with some paintings for Discovery Bay, just southwest of Port Townsend, WA.
Here’s the sketch for this first one. But first some background. For the past couple of years, heavy equipment and a bunch of people have been pulling creosote posts, removing a couple of bridges, rerouting a water line, hauling off tons of rocks and trying to put nature back together after more than a century of messing things up by us. The idea was to recreate a friendly environment for salmon, and it’s looking good optimistic.
This painting will be on a wayside panel at Snow Creek, the same creek that our nearby Chimacum Creek chum salmon came from 15 years ago in another restoration – and that makes this project even more personal for me. It shows the creek meandering down under the sheltering alders and out into the estuary. Port Townsend is down the bay and around the corner. There was a trestle and railroad grade crossing just to the left that is now completely gone, allowing two creeks to find their historic channels again. Drawing this, a landscape in transition, has been challenging, so we’ll see what transpires as two wild creeks relocate themselves. Either the painting will remain realistic or it might become completely outdated – either way, the story is accurate.
Here’s what Snow Creek looks like at the moment, carrying silt to build new shorelines and generally get back to normal. I’ll post the painting for this one soon. Thanks, Dave and the folks at the North Olympic Salmon Coalition for the pleasure of learning more about and then painting my own neighborhood.
Both of these images enlarge in your browser if you click them.
A little side project that’s hopefully coming in on the truck today. The Straits Foundation just finished a project on Orcas Island in the San Juans that will help fish, a lot! West Beach Creek was blocked by two old culverts, so out they came and a giant culvert the size of Texas went in to make fish passage easier. In fact, I doubt the fish will even realized they’re in a culvert at all. A fairly amazing change and a real credit to the land owner for making this all happen.
So, here I came with small budget but a speedy paint brush. These two illustrations are separate paintings, pieced together on the panel. I also did the design, collaborated on the text and handled the fabrication in aluminum. Another little piece of art on a beach, which makes NINE of these around Puget Sound and the Strait in the past two years.
And here is the final installation. Thanks again Lisa and Carolyn at the Straits Foundation in Bellingham, WA for allowing me to push some paint again for you.
Click the image to enlarge it in your browser. It needs a big screen.
A new painting this week for Waterman Shoreline Preserve on Whidbey Island just east of Port Townsend. This is for the Whidbey Camano Land Trust, a bunch of truly nice people to paint for. It will be one of two large wayside panels that go beside this abandoned road – now a public trail – like a little art gallery in the forest. The painting shows the rich habitat of birds and berries that jumble up along here, a very compressed “edge zone.”
Nature is most abundant along edges like meadow/forest, roadsides/forest, shorelines/forest – so it’s a painting that hopefully expresses that. I’ll have the finished design ready soon to share.
During my long painting career I’ve sure sold my share of art to private collectors. I still get about five emails a month asking for details about paintings I sold decades ago. Now, it seems, I’m more passionate about hanging some art outside where visitors can get up close and personal with my stuff – but also learn a bit about where they’re standing. At heart, I’m really just a painter of nature in all its glorious details.
I’m a happy painter because of it! Thanks, Ida, for being patient on this one – and the next.
[Click on the finished painting to enlarge it – I put a much bigger version on the web so you can see details]
I’ve been painting fish, a lot of fish! This is for Ludington State Park in Michigan and is part of three images that total 18 feet long. This one is for kids, but it really could be a fish-who’s-who for anyone. The Vienna that went down a century ago, yes, there really is a ship wreck there that looks like this. And, yes, they really have Chinook and Coho Salmon, and a bunch of other alien fish that have either been planted or let loose and are now creating havoc in Lake Michigan.
We decided that the fish might be used in other Michigan State Parks in other interpretive projects, so I painted the fish and the cormorant separately, then floated them over the background digitally. That means they can use them any size or placement in all sorts of ways – sort of a fine-art digital mashup.
I’m always asked how the heck Larry Eifert in Port Townsend Washington gets to paint fish in Michigan. Well, this project came from Joan at Genesis Graphics in Michigan, a long time supporter of what I like to do – and then through Theresa at Michigan State Parks in the Upper Peninsula. Theresa was very nice to work with and we seemed to hit it off – so I hope to do more for them. So, the final installation will be at Ludington down on the west side of lower Michigan right on the lake – not 30 miles from where I lived for awhile in Door County Wisconsin. Small world.
And it’s an ever-widening circle of friends that keeps me going.
I ran across this post I had originally written last year, but somehow it was never published. I probably had a bunch of posts and this one didn’t make the cut, but it’s never too late for good art, right?
As one drives up the Sol Duc Valley, on the northwest side of Olympic National Park west of Seattle, there are lots of pull-outs with overlooks to the river or trails leading to some of the best forests I know. This isn’t quite temperate rain forest, but it’s close. It truly is a National Treasure, and it’s a big thanks to the folks at Olympic N.P. who continue to allow me to paint my “backyard”.
Readers seem interested in the artistic processes that go into these more complex paintings. It’s one thing to paint a fine-art image of an old-growth forest. I can just be, well, “artistic” and I paint what I see or what I like, but these complex collages with lots of species are a different beast. Not only do I have to paint the bear, but it has to at least appear to be very accurate. It has to be sized properly with reference to dozens of other critters, and it has to be animated and not stiff. I can’t place, say, a bobcat right next to a rabbit, or a shady plant out in the open. Sometimes it’s a real challenge.
Here’s the fourth draft of the initial sketch.
As you can see, the finished painting ended up being wildly different than this sketch. Critters appeared, then disappeared, then arrived in other locations. (Sort of like the squirrels that continually try to break into our barn. I chased one out today that was attempting to hide in the Fiberglas insulation over my workbench.) I also had to figure out what to paint behind the text, so this painting could also be used for other things such as park publications and exhibits maybe without the text – or maybe even a future jigsaw puzzle.
And you thought being an artist was easy! Well, maybe not easy, but after 40 years it’s still a lot of fun. It’s often said that being a painter is an old-man’s game. I’m starting to believe it.
Thanks for reading this week.
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